In the minutes immediately following the Nebraska volleyball team’s upset of top-ranked Penn State on Sunday, Husker coach John Cook huddled his team on the court.
The truth is, though, none of the players are really sure what Cook said, because the crowd at the NU Coliseum was still too loud and Cook didn’t have much of a voice left.
Cook also shared a personal message with his daughter, senior setter Lauren Cook.
“He goes, ‘When you got hit in the face, that was the turning point,’” Lauren Cook said.
That was in reference to a play in the second set of NU's five-set victory. An attack by Nia Grant drilled Cook in the face, but the ball popped into the air. Nebraska scrambled to keep the rally alive, and won the point.
NU had already been blown out 25-12 in the first set, and was quickly trailing by eight points in the second set. After Cook’s dig, Nebraska went on a big run and ended up winning the set 32-30.
“When that happened, we won that rally and I could just feel the momentum shift,” John Cook said. “Our girls were laughing about it, but I think it just relaxed them a little bit. It felt like things started going our way, because up to that point, nothing was going our way.”
In a situation like that, John Cook says the player that got hit in the face will either cry, or act like it didn’t happen. He’s also heard of players getting a concussion when taking a shot to the head that hard.
Coach gets emotional
Lauren Cook and Gina Mancuso both said John Cook got emotional after the match. It’s possible there was even a tear.
After all, Nebraska had drastically improved its chances of winning the Big Ten title with a dramatic rally from its worst set of the season. Penn State now leads Nebraska by one match with eight matches remaining.
The last time the players could recall John Cook being that emotional is when Nebraska beat Penn State last season, in the Huskers’ first Big Ten match.
The coach did not deny shedding a tear Sunday.
“Hey, how can you not?,” he said. “(Hannah Werth) is down there bawling and the crowd is going nuts and you see your team will itself back to get a win. That’s what’s so great about sports. I walked up there to do (his postmatch radio interview) and I’m getting mobbed by these 80-year-old women. They’re ready to cry, too.
“This is what Husker sports is all about and college sports. I start getting emotional watching the (Nebraska-Michigan football game) and I’m at my house by myself. It’s just Husker sports; it’s great.”
Cook said he was drained following the match.
“The Coliseum was so loud,” he said. “It just feels like your ear drums are going to blow out. I don’t know how these rock band guys do it. The fans were awesome.”
Huskers stay No. 4 in poll
After losing to Ohio State and beating Penn State last week, Nebraska (18-3) stayed No. 4 in the latest AVCA poll.
Stanford took over the No. 1 spot from Penn State, which dropped to third.
This weekend, Nebraska plays at Michigan on Friday and at Michigan State on Saturday. Neither team is ranked.
Fans making the trip to East Lansing, Mich. for the Nebraska-Michigan State football game can take in both events. The football game is at 2:30 p.m., and the volleyball match begins at 7 p.m.
The time for Huskers’ match against Purdue on Nov. 10 has been set for 7:30 p.m., following the Nebraska-Penn State football game.
Haggerty gets another Big Ten honor
Nebraska middle blocker Meghan Haggerty was named the Big Ten freshman of the week.
Haggerty came up big playing against the No. 1 team for a second time this season. She had 12 kills and a team-high seven blocks in the Huskers’ win against Penn State. She’s earned award three of the 10 weeks this season.
Broekhuis joins the celebration
Husker junior right-side hitter Morgan Broekhuis has a long way to go to be on the Huskers’ all-celebration team. Lauren Cook and Werth probably lead in that regard.
Still, Broekhuis caught the attention of her teammates Sunday when she celebrated a big block.
“As soon as she went down on that block, I was like, ‘You went on your knees,'” Lauren Cook said. “I was like, ‘That is the biggest deal to me. That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’ She played so well. It’s cool to see her celebration and getting loud, because she is more the quiet one on our team.”
Eichorst takes in weekend matches
Shawn Eichorst, who will take over as NU athletic director Jan. 1, attended both weekend matches.
John Cook was glad to hear Eichorst could be at the NU Coliseum during a big weekend for the volleyball program.
“I hope he now understands what Nebraska volleyball is all about,” the coach said. “I have a big presentation for him about this program. Coming from Miami, it's going to be a lot different. I don't have to tell him anything after (Sunday). He now understands what this place and program is all about. I’m glad he was here. It’s great for him to see this.”
Eichorst comes from the University of Miami, where the volleyball team is ranked 23rd with a 20-3 record.